The Controversy Cometh

Senate Majority Leader Frist is under fire from some conservatives for his speech yesterday in support of expanding federally supported embryonic research. This is a difficult issue and, for that reason, it will continue to divide conservatives. As I wrote here, in “Preview of a Coming Controversy,” I agree with the position Frist took yesterday.
Given the nature of this issue, it was altogether appropriate for conservative leaders such as House Majority Leader Delay to speak out forcefully against Frist’s position. Delay’s rhetoric was just right — “Senator Frist is a good man; he is simply advocating a bad policy.”
The rhetoric that bothered me came from certain talking heads, mostly liberals, who claimed that Frist’s position was based on political calculation. Citing the Majority Leader’s support of legislation to have the federals courts look at Terry Schiavo’s case, commentators like Juan Williams and Jeff Birnbaum on the Fox News program Special Report tried to weave a theory holding that Frist’s position on these life-and-death issues is a cyncial attempt at positioning himself for a 2008 presidential bid. But, as Charles Krauthammer pointed out on the same program, Williams and Birnbaum couldn’t really explain how Frist’s positions advance his presidential prospects.
I cannot read Senator Frist’s mind. But instead of incoherent political speculation, why not entertain the possibility that the unifying thread in Frist’s views on the two issues is his desire to save people’s lives, coupled with his conclusion, correct or not, that non-embryonic stem cell research and research using federally approved embryonic lines is insufficient for that purpose?


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